CARAWAY SEED CAKE
This is my favourite kind of cake — simple, humble and special all at the same time. It is one from my childhood, recreated from fragments of sense memories, an old butter cake recipe from Mum and from how it looked in the tin. I may have this wrong, but I think my sisters hated it and I loved it, or at least I told everyone I did, and therefore fancied myself as quite sophisticated! It is made by hand creaming the butter and sugar — I can’t explain why it should make such a difference, but every time I take the time to make a cake this way I remind myself why it is utterly worth the effort. Start this cake a few hours before you’d like to eat it and ensure all the ingredients are at room temperature. softened butter, to grease 250g unsalted butttter, at room temperature 1 cup raw caster sugar 1 teaspoon caraway seeds or to taste 4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature 1⅔ cups self-raising flflour, sifted pinch of fifinely ground sea salt ½ cup milk Preheat oven to 175°C. Grease a 24cm square cake pan with softened butter. Line base and sides with baking paper, then grease with butter. (This will give the cake a lovely caramelised crust.) Place butter and sugar in a heavy mixing bowl. Using a butter knife, cut butter into tiny pieces, then set aside until butter is soft. (I remember this stage taking hours. Mum would leave the bowl and knife on the kitchen counter in the weak Blue Mountains sun or next to the wood stove, and mix and cut a little more every time she passed.) Add caraway seeds. Using a large wooden spoon, beat butter and sugar thoroughly until very pale and flfluffffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition. Sift flflour and salt over butter mixture and mix gently but thoroughly until combined. Gradually add milk and gently mix until combined. Spoon into prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown and a skewer inserted into centre of cake comes out clean. Cool in pan for 5 minutes, then turn onto a wire rack. Serve just as it is so as not to lose flflavour and fragrance of caraway, and taste and crunchy texture of crust.